Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tough Choices at SPPS

The tumult that is St Paul Public Schools comes to head, today:
Tonight, the district might provide some answers.

Administrators in the St. Paul School District will present the school board with a wide-ranging view of where they think the district should be headed.

The names of three elementary schools the district plans to close for the 2010-11 school year will be revealed. So will more details about the plans that will overhaul how St. Paul educates students, from changing how the district decides which school students should attend to changing the way teachers and staff are evaluated.
Along with these difficult decisions, is a look at how school choice is provided.

In a letter I wrote to the School board in February 2004 I offered
suggestions to trim the budget that included:
3) Regional Choice: Currently, there are 5 area Superintendents. Areas A, B, and C include the traditional schools that encompass the school district. Choice can still be provided, but the choices could be limited to the schools within your Area, be at A, B, or C. This would build community, limit transportation miles, and undoubtedly save money.
Last week, in the PiPress, they laid out the District's latest budget cutting maneuvers which included:
The recommendations would reduce the number of application preferences and divide the city into three regions, with students being able to attend any school in their region. Seven schools would remain as citywide options. The three-region plan is estimated to save $2.2 million in transportation costs.
At a time of serious budget strife, it is great to see the Board and district administration looking at serious modifications to the system, even though they were in my view over 5 years ago. Imaging the amount of money that could have been saved during that time if the decisions being made were more proactive rather than reactive. But now is notthe time to look back, it is time to look forward and make the necessary course corrections to stabilize how we provide for the children. Isn't that the most important thing!


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